MND Australia

Research Directions | May 2024

Welcome to the MNDRA research update. In this report we will highlight outcomes and advances from the MND research world that have caught our attention over the last few weeks.

MND Research Australia news

  • Abstracts have opened for the 3rd Australian and New Zealand MND Research Symposium in Melbourne on Tuesday 27th and Wednesday 28th of August. Submit abstracts here.
  • Don’t forget the next State of Play on Tuesday 28th May: Why we need more data and what we are doing to get it. We will hear from professor Paul Talman who will provide an overview of the value of large-scale data and what can be learnt and from Dr Anjali Henders who will update us on what is happening in Australia currently. Register for the Zoom link here.
  • Congratulations to Associate Professor Kelly Williams at Macquarie University and Dr Emma Devenney and Professor Glenda Halliday at the University of Sydney, for their success in receiving NHMRC Investigator Grants. With a success rate of only 13.7% this is a remarkable achievement and great to see MND researchers recognised at the national level.

Clinical trial news

The PBAC has recommended the listing of Edaravone (RADICAVA) on the PBS for treatment of ALS in patients who are independent in activities of daily living and where treatment is initiated within two years of disease onset. This provides an additional treatment option for those patients who fall within the criteria.

Teva, the company partnering with the manufacturers, Mitsubishi-Tanabe, are currently finalising financial and supply details with the PBAC and we hope RADICAVA will be available by 2025.

Other research outcomes

Scientists identify the brain cells that regulate inflammation, and pinpoint how they keep tabs on the immune response. A body–brain circuit that regulates body inflammatory responses – a study published in Nature just this week has shown how the brain senses and response to immune signals from other parts of the body.

It has been known for a while that the brain is a key component of the immune system. In very clever studies in mice, the researchers from the Howard Hughes Institute in New York, showed there are different neurons in the brain that responds to pro-inflammatory signals and anti-inflammatory signals.

These neurons monitor and regulate the immune response. Genetic silencing of this body-to-brain circuit produced unregulated and out-of-control inflammatory responses.

By contrast, activating, rather than silencing, this circuit affords exceptional neural control of immune responses. This might be relevant to MND as neuroinflammation is often a feature of MND and finding new ways to regulate this inflammation may be critical to slowing down progression.